It's Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme this year is kindness. I've decided to explore the theme throughout this week at online classes. We have been doing the Loving Kindness (metta) meditation which begins with sending loving kindness to yourself first, and then to others.
Tonight we spent the whole yoga flow sending loving kindness to ourselves. How many of us struggle with the idea of being kind to ourselves first? How many of us feel selfish or self indulgent when we try to extend the same kindness to ourselves that we show to others.
I'm sure most of us know why we should practice self care - you can't pour from an empty cup, put your own life mask on before helping others etc. Recently I had a couple of days of feeling so drained - I'm sure many are familiar with that feeling right now. Being with my kids all the time, home schooling, being around the house, the constant house work in between teaching classes every day, technology, selling (literally I feel like I'm selling my soul sometimes!), and all the other "work stuff" that takes up my day. Cheggs recognised that I was under pressure (all the usual ways I show I'm under pressure - by not talking about it but rather growling and snapping at anyone who gets in my way). He took the boys and they camped in the garden. I channeled my inner hippy, went for sunset bike rides, wandered through the garden bare foot picking wild flowers for candlelit yoga practices and meditation. It felt self indulgent, I felt guilty and selfish but it worked. I felt like a new person and was able to do a better job of everything that was on my plate - being a mother, teacher, business owner, friend and wife.
Self-care is a bit of a 2020 buzzword, and rightly so! We should all be practicing self care. But how? Is it more than a bubble bath with your favourite candle now and again (hashtag metime / selfcare / nourishingmysoul)?
For me, extending kindness to myself has a lot to do with the way I talk to myself and I'm sure I'm not alone. Do you criticise / berate / judge yourself regularly. Notice what your inner voice is saying - do you show yourself the kindness and compassion you would show a friend? What triggers the negative talk for you? Start by noticing … but try not to use this as another reason to berate yourself.
As soon as I started thinking about this kindness challenge it brought up all my “weaknesses” - who am I to tell other people to be kind when I still haven’t posted that letter I wrote to my best friend 3 weeks ago. And I never remember people’s birthdays. I don’t phone my mum often enough. I shout at my kids. I take out frustration on my husband… and so it goes… on and on! Familiar to anyone?
I’m sharing this to highlight that we all tell ourselves we’re not good enough. I wouldn’t even say I’m a particularly negative person, but there it is - this little voice (and for some of us this might be a BIG voice). The more we can notice it, the more we can distance ourselves from it. We can cut ourselves a little slack and try to talk to ourselves as we would a friend.
So a kindness challenge for you this week - be kind to yourself! It’s not all about bubble baths and chocolate - show yourself some real compassion. Forgive yourself for something. If you're feeling down then wallow in sadness without telling yourself to pull it together.
Look after your physical body. Remember to eat well. Go to bed early enough to feel rested. Switch off your mobile phone or social media. Stay hydrated. Move regularly.
Kindness also means cutting yourself some slack (especially when you do stay up too late, spend all day at the computer screen, live on toast, eat all the biscuits, drink all the wine and spend the evening scrolling through instagram). Talk to yourself as you would a friend. If you’re in a full house, give yourself some time out. Write down a list of things that you love about yourself. Repeat the mantra “I am enough”, “ I am worthy” or “I am loved” for the whole day.
Read a book, paint a picture, sit on a chair and look out the window. Have a cry. Do nothing. Put on your favourite song. Only you know what floats your boat but see if you can fit that in… kindness matters! And not just for this week.
I'd love to hear how your experience of showing yourself compassion and kindess.
#mentalhealthawarenessweek #kindnessmatters #lovingkindness